Archive for Thursday, March 1, 2012

Kansas Legislators raise concerns about schools reaching dyslexic students

March 1, 2012


Frustrated parents, reduced education budgets and legislators converged Thursday over the issue of trying to help students with dyslexia.

Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, said he knew of instances where students were diagnosed with dyslexia, and then when the parents met with teachers and administrators they were told the student didn’t need additional help.

“That is extremely frustrating for these parents. They feel like they are being ignored,” Abrams said. Dyslexia is a learning disorder that makes it difficult to read.

Abrams has introduced Senate Bill 410 which would require schools increase screening to identify students with dyslexia and provide instruction for those children.

But Colleen Riley, who is the director of special education services for the Kansas Department of Education, said schools are doing a good job in the area of training teachers to helping students who are dyslexic.

“The structures we do have in place adequately do take care of our students,” Riley said. She said the system could always improve, however.

“If there is a way to work with these parents, we have got to do that,” said Chairwoman Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita.

Riley said requirements under the bill would increase the costs to school districts by millions of dollars statewide. Meanwhile, the Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback have not provided any professional funding for training teachers about dyslexia. School districts have had to dip into other areas to pay for the training, Riley said.

Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, however, said there are a number of parents involved with their school district who aren’t getting the help they need for their children.

Schodorf said the committee would decide next week on what to do with Abrams’ bill.

Linda Weinmaster, of Lawrence, talked with several committee members after the meeting, urging them to endorse intensive phonics instruction.

Weinmaster said one of her children was wrongly thought by school officials to have a learning disability when he was young. “Nothing was wrong with him,” she said. “Like many other children, he was simply being disabled by ineffective reading curriculum and instructional methods.”


Greg Cooper 6 years, 3 months ago

Wonder which Republican's child is dyslexic?

Patricia Davis 6 years, 3 months ago

I was thinking the same thing. It's truly amazing when Republicans have children with special needs, the game changes.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 3 months ago

I think you have to be able to read in order to be diagnosed with dyslexia. We learned earlier this week that republicans can't read. That's why they voted for property tax relief...

chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

LInda Weinmaster? Let me guess. Vaccines cause dyslexia, too.

KSManimal 6 years, 3 months ago

Hey, Abrams....does your bill include FUNDING for schools to accomplish what you're mandating they accomplish? No?

You know, if you're training champion athletes you might actually have to FEED them. You can't just pass laws demanding they be champions, then spend the money on tax cuts for the wealthy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

There's only one way for Republicans to address the disability of dyslexia-- slash funding. Everyone knows that you can't solve problems by throwing money at them. Let these kids pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

No coddling for lysdexics!!!!

texburgh 6 years, 3 months ago

Weinmaster is an idiot. She found one child once for whom intensive phonics worked and now she wants to mandate for everyone.

My son, diagnosed with dyslexia later in his school career, was dumped in an intensive phonics program for several years in early childhood. It made his reading problems worse as he struggled to sound out every word no matter how long in a language that violates its own phonetic rules frequently.

Hokt on foniks werkt for mee.

Hey, Linda, what does this spell: GHOTI

That's right, it spells fish - gh like in rough; o like in women; and ti like in nation.

chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

It kills me that she says her child was "wrongly thought to have a learning disability." Hello, dyslexia is a learning disability! Either her child did not have dyslexia, or she just doesn't know what she's talking about. Ok, I won't rule out both statements being true at once. You don't get over dyslexia. You just learn to compensate, and some people will do better than others. Some kids can do well with intensive phonics work, but some will end up struggling so hard with it that you're better off emphasizing sight words and understanding from context.

lweinmaster 6 years, 3 months ago

Re- read the article, I never once said my son had dyslexia. He was not taught to read in first grade and they said it was because of his learning disabilities, they were wrong! He was curriculum disabled. Once he was taught with REAL phonics, he was an excellent student who graduated college on the Dean's list. I have taught many children to read that have been labeled dyslexic. Explicit phonics instruction prevents reading failure.

chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

Q: What Is Dyslexia?
A: Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.


Ergo - unexpected phonetic difficulties would qualify for the /correct/ label of dyslexia. Dyslexia also doesn't mean that you cannot or will never read or that the dean's list is out of reach. I've known plenty of dyslexic graduate students.

lweinmaster 6 years, 3 months ago

texburgh wow, do I know you? Call me I will teach you the spelling rules. I have taught over 500 kids learn to read with scientific, research based explicit phonics. I'm sorry your son did not have the right phonics. You must know the authentic to detect the impostor! I do not know of any one else in Douglas county that teacher explicit phonics. Reading issue are nothing knew. Dr. Seuss said, "I think killing phonics was one of the greatest causes of illiteracy in the county."

chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

I'm sorry, but after seeing your opinion on vaccines, I don't believe you really know the meaning of the words "research based" and "scientific."

lweinmaster 6 years, 3 months ago

How did you see my youngest sons medical records? Oh that is right you have not. He is diagnosed with mercury/heavy metal encephalopathy. His only exposure to mercury is from vaccines. He was not born here in Lawrence by the power plants. You don't know what you don't know! Call me, I can clear up your confusion unless you want to remain anonymous.

chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

Right. Getting a quack to give your kid a label makes it a fact and doesn't at all mean you found a quack DAN somewhere, right? Like I said, I don't believe you know the meaning of the words. I trust your expertise on education as far as I can throw it.

lweinmaster 6 years, 3 months ago

Please call me I will show you the 2 local main stream doctors that diagnosed my son with heavy metal poisoning. You would learn a lot.

chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

My bet is that you've got a quack that gave the dx and a ped that passively accepted what you brought in from an outside source, but that's beside the point. Vaccines don't cause autism. Mercury encephalitis isn't autism. Vaccines don't cause mercury poisoning. You don't know that the "only" source of mercury your child was exposed to was in a vaccine. There, you've almost got six impossible things before breakfast.

Laura Wilson 6 years, 3 months ago

"Dyslexia is a learning disorder that makes it difficult to read."

No, dyslexia is an umbrella term for several hundred learning disabilities. If they focus on only the ones that make it difficult to read, they're really going to miss kids with other problems.

Example, my brother was diagnosed with a learning disability in COLLEGE. Why that late? Because he could read with no problem and well above his grade level from first grade on. He was told he was lazy when he couldn't spell and then computers came along with spell check and no one noticed anymore. He skated by in Latin because his teachers liked him and he could BS with the best of them. His learning disability concerns symbols in place of numbers and letters in odd places in foreign languages. It never had anything to do with reading English. He couldn't handle upper level math and foreign languages.

The big problem is how can any one teacher be trained to help with the myriad number of learning disabilities? They can't. And testing to find them is difficult because the kids with "dyslexia" are often very intelligent and can ace most tests. My brother couldn't be dyslexic because he was in the gifted program and was just so smart. He was just lazy. My mother will go to her grave angry with the school district for not testing further.

And while phonics may be the answer for some, it would have done bupkus for my brother.

lweinmaster 6 years, 3 months ago

I'm so sorry, the program I use, "The Writing Road to Reading," would have taught your brother to spell. My kids were spelling words like chrysanthemum, metamorphosis and embryology in first grade because they learned the rules of our language. We speak 45 sounds, we write them using 25 single letters and combination of 2, 3 and 4 letters to spell those sounds 70 ways. Combined with 30 spelling rules you can read, write and spell 95% of the English language.

chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

Johns-Hopkins does not list that as a program with sufficient evidence to support efficacy.

PS, I believe that spamming the board to advertise your services counts as a TOS violation.

lweinmaster 6 years, 3 months ago

Spalding Writing Road to Reading is listed on the Johns-Hopkins list. I do not want to teach children to read. I want teachers to be taught in teachers college so they will have this skill for all chilren who struggle to learn to read.

chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

I just posted the link, lady. It's on the list under "no qualifying studies." You astound me with the obtuse.

Teaching new teachers how to recognize and deal with dyslexia isn't a bad thing. I'd like to see that happen, too. But I don't want it to come out of an unfunded mandate.

chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

No, it's not an umbrella term for hundred learning disabilities. Dyslexia is a specific neurological disability involving the decoding of words which may play into deficiencies in other areas (see definition pasted elsewhere.) Dyslexics often have difficulties with foreign languages, writing, spelling, and short term memory. It's very common to not get diagnosed because of exactly what you described - an otherwise intelligent person seems "lazy" because they can't just instantly figure out the rules of decoding language that other kids just "get." They may also learn to fake it or feign laziness in order to disguise what they think the problem is: stupidity.

lweinmaster 6 years, 3 months ago

It is another word for poor curriculum, I call it curriculum disabled. Just because a child has not been taught well does not mean it is the child. You must to teach to every learning avenue of a student. You need a multi sensory approach to deliver what you want your students to learn. I recommend you read Dr. Hilde Mosse, M.D. book, “The Complete Handbook of Children’ Reading Disorders,” assembled scientific facts that proves beyond logical doubt that absence of phonics in beginning reading programs started the path to illiteracy in America. She said, “It took painstaking examination of children to make me realize that reading and writing disorders were not necessarily signs of psychopathology or organic defects, but may instead be consequences of inappropriate teaching methods."

Paul R Getto 6 years, 3 months ago

+1 There are many ways to teach reading and teachers need lots of tools in their kits.

chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

No, but "Gotland" may be another word for ignorant.

tomatogrower 6 years, 3 months ago

"Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, however, said there are a number of parents involved with their school district who aren’t getting the help they need for their children." How many are you talking about, Wagle. A handful? Thousands? If I were a teacher I wouldn't give you credit for this comment. Too vague. An F for you.

The state shouldn't be allowed to mandate something they aren't going to fund. I worked as a para in school many years ago, and I can tell you there are plenty of parents who think their children who have learning disabilities think their kid should get an A just for showing up at school. A C grade just doesn't fit into their IEP. I'm not saying every school is doing what they can, but parents have to accept that their kid is not an A student.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 3 months ago

"The state shouldn't be allowed to mandate something they aren't going to fund." === Good point, and the heart of the matter. You cannot continue to cut school funds and ask them to do more with less. The business person pushing this also makes lots of money selling training and services.

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago

Cute - backwards writing.

Have you seen the ones where the first and last letters are the same, but the rest of the word is jumbled? Most folks can read those fine, which is interesting.

chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

You do realize that dyslexia doesn't make someone see letters backwards, right?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

I say parents that go to legislators about public school teaching problems are living an illusion. Going to the school and sitting down with staff might be the better place to discover a solution.

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